By

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun (C) arrives at Beijing's Capital International Airport on Thursday. Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun (C) arrives at Beijing’s Capital International Airport on Thursday. Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE
Dec. 19 (UPI) — The United States’ top envoy on North Korea arrived in Beijing on Thursday, raising speculation he could make contact with the North Koreans this week.

Stephen Biegun, who had initially offered to meet with Pyongyang’s officials at Panmunjom, met with China’s Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui, South Korean television network KBS reported.

Reporters waiting for Biegun at the airport in Beijing could be seen in news footage asking the U.S. diplomat for more details.

“I’m sorry,” he says. “I’m not going to answer your questions, guys.”

RELATED North Korea fishermen face death after deportation, defector says

North Korean officials were not seen at the airport on Air Koryo flights, but the possibility Biegun met with North Korean diplomats in China for informal, closed-door discussions cannot be ruled out, according to KBS.

Biegun is expected to stay in China until Friday. His visit may have been arranged at the last minute as the Trump administration seeks new paths to talks.

Luo held a news conference on Thursday, calling for “restraint” among stakeholder countries. An easing of tensions should take place within the framework of a political solution, he said.

RELATED New North Korea law requires wheelchair accessibility, state media says

“Relevant countries should exercise restraint as they face each other. They must find ways to address their reasonable concerns through dialogue and negotiation.”

China has proposed easing some North Korea sanctions, and has submitted a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council this week.

On Thursday state tabloid Global Times said the draft resolution is “also beneficial for the United States.”

RELATED U.S., South Korea agree to flexibility on $5B military cost-sharing demand

U.S. lawmakers are seeking to increase economic pressure, however.

Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill said Wednesday “secondary sanctions” against Pyongyang must be enacted to punish international banks and entities that do business with North Korea, The Washington Post reported.

“It seems to me the best chance we have in changing the path North Korea is on is with crippling sanctions. The current sanctions regime is not enough,” said Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa.